new fries

STAFF PICKS: New Fries bring the No Wave disco to their bite-size Fresh Face Forward EP

The Toronto group think outside the Metal Box, and perform a musical archaeology in service of self-discovery.

- Oct 6, 2014

New Fries are not without precedent. But the greatest success of the Fresh Face Forward EP is how the band makes that besides the point. "I can find similar people screaming similar things," screams frontwoman Anni Spadafora on "Goberth, Roberth." It's tempting to call it a preemptive strike against comparisons to No Wave icons and post-punk standbys, but that implies the sort of plan that New Fries don't have. Ultimately, their blister-popping sound stands out because of their actual methodology: a free-association exploration of their interiors, performed for us but not to be deciphered.

Spadafora, the protagonist of New Fries, makes her language a physical thing. She can gag on her own words, giggle like they're tickling her vocal chords, or bellow like she's wrestling with their projections. She's boxed in by ineffability, and reacts as though cornered. It works wonderously: the meaning behind what she's saying is never as interesting as the energy drawing it out.

The rest of the band keep up with the predictability of a caffeinated thought pattern; dense-yet-nimble bass throws off a quicksand dancefloor bounce, and the guitar has enough of a serrated edge to make Keith Levene wince. Somehow, all the preparation that went into Fresh Face Forward (two years, according to the band) has not slightly eroded how impulsive the EP sounds, nor how lean each track is.

If you absolutely must try to "interpret" New Fries, the biggest clue comes at the end, during the EP's most sumptuously produced track "Oil & Water" (a bed of synths? Fancy!). The last we hear of Spadafora is her chanting "Dispose of all ideas, opinions and desires." This transcendental nugget at the end of the EP's onslaught reflects the contradiction at the heart of the band's vintage impulses: to drown out internal noise with yelps and squalls, to discover oneself by embracing what, years later, is still considered nonsense.

New Fries's new tape Fresh Face Forward is out now via Pleasence. Catch their release show this Friday, October 10 in Toronto.

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